Longtime County Legislator Snyder to Receive Honorary Doctorate From SUNY JCC

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James J. Snyder, Sr.

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SUNY Jamestown Community College

James J. Snyder, Sr., who played an integral role in the development of SUNY Jamestown Community College’s Cattaraugus County Campus, will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from the State University of New York during the college’s 2021 commencement exercises.

Now retired from public office, including his most recent position as chair of the Cattaraugus County Legislature, Snyder worked as an elected and appointed public servant for 58 years. He was elected to the county legislature in 1970 and served as a member of its body for a total of 39 years and spent 13 years as its chair.

As president of both the New York State Association of Counties and the National Association of Counties, he demonstrated an ability to negotiate the competing priorities of diverse counties represented by centralized entities. Given these experiences, Snyder was appointed by George H. W. Bush as the Special Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs for two years in the early 1990s. In this capacity, he advised the president and other national officials to ensure productive relationships among local, regional, tribal, state, and national governmental entities.

Though not an alumnus of Jamestown Community College, Snyder proposed legislation in 1976 requiring the county legislature to negotiate the development of what would become the college’s second campus.

“Not many public officials have the opportunity to see the results of such a remarkable institution that we have here in Cattaraugus County, specifically in downtown Olean,” Snyder said. “This campus was the work of many, not just me, who were dedicated to helping realize a dream of an affordable education close to work and home and one that not only helped lift up our communities, but transformed lives.”

“Jim Snyder’s influence, vision, and unwavering advocacy for accessible higher education options for southwestern New York state helped bring our Cattaraugus County Campus to fruition,” said Daniel T. DeMarte, JCC president. “As a longtime friend and ally of Jamestown Community College, this recognition is fitting, and we are grateful for this opportunity to commend him for the many roles he has played in our communities.”

The honorary doctorate degree is the highest form of recognition offered by the State University of New York to persons of exceptional distinction. Snyder will become the third individual in JCC’s history to receive an honorary doctorate from the State University of New York: naturalist and ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson was honored during the college’s 1986 commencement, while entertainment legend Lucille Ball was honored posthumously in 1991.

JCC will honor graduates both in-person and virtually during the weekend of May 14. A virtual ceremony will air on its website on Friday, May 14 at 6 p.m., during which graduates will be recognized and have the opportunity to hear from guest speakers.

The celebration will include more than 1,200 names of pending Spring 2021 graduates, in addition to graduates who completed their degree in the Summer or Fall of 2019 as well as the Spring, Summer, or Fall of 2020. The ceremony will be available on-demand following its conclusion.

To learn more about the college’s plans for commencement or to view the virtual ceremony, visit sunyjcc.edu/commencement.